HOSPICE, A BEGINNING
By Phyllis Campbell
To many the word Hospice sounds a voice of despair, and total gloom. Of course, Hospice might be considered as a last resort, and depending on one’s viewpoint this is true.
Hospice deals with the care of the person during those last months of life, and for that reason, calling for their help is a sad, even traumatic decision. Still, for those dealing with this sad time, whether the affected person, or their loved ones, can be made easier through the care and support offered through Hospice.
Obviously they can’t offer extended life, but they can offer a sense of security and dignity during this journey from life as the person and their friends and family have always known to that final adventure we call death.
I emphasize the word “person” for a reason. Hospice workers never lose sight of the fact that they are dealing with a person, not some poor thing destined to die. Each is an individual whose physical, and often mental powers are failing, but always a person.
I had known the words were coming, those words that signaled the beginning of that final journey, but they’re never easy. ”
I’ve done all I can do,” Dr. Ambika told us. “you need to look at your options.”
He touched my shoulder gently, and I sensed his caring. We had agreed in the beginning that quality, not quantity of life was our goal.
My husband, Chuck, had been diagnosed with lymphoma three years earlier, although his health had been gradually deteriorating much longer. We had known deep inside ourselves that we would reach this crossroad some day, and done the homework.
This is a difficult decision for anyone, but must be considered more carefully by the prospective caregiver who is blind. Do you call Hospice? Do you arrange for a paid caregiver? Do you check on nursing homes. Both a paid caregiver and a nursing home are expensive, especially care at home, since insurance often picks up at least part of the cost for a terminally ill patient in a nursing facility. I was all he had, since his entire family had already traveled that road. After careful consideration and much prayer, I knew that I couldn’t send him away to die among strangers.
This was not an easy decision, and I ruthlessly pushed sentimentality aside, evaluating my emotional and physical abilities. Could I, a blind woman, perform the things necessary to meet his changing physical needs? Was I strong enough emotionally to watch his decline? obviously I couldn’t know for sure, but I was willing to try. I realized that I would probably need paid help toward the end.
After considering my physical and mental strengths and weaknesses, and going over my assets, the decision was made.
John, one of the Hospice nurses, made his first visit on a snowy Christmas Eve. Although I had discussed my blindness with the intake worker, he went over everything either of us could think of. He marked each medication that I might need, using my Pen Friend. The Pen Friend was helpful, not only in identifying the items, but he was able to read the directions as well, along with any suggestions. Before he left he made sure that I had their emergency number in accessible format, and he told me that an aide would be there for about forty-five minutes seven days a week, to do Chuck’s bath, and other personal needs.
I had access to advice twenty-four hours a day, and the nurse routinely visited twice a week, and came more often if needed.
You’re wondering what this cost. I saw all of the statements, but was never billed more than what Medicare paid. This included visits, medications, and all supplies including a hospital bed. The financial assistance meant a lot to both of us, but for Chuck and me, Hospice offered something that cannot be bought. They offered me emotional and physical support, and they gave Chuck the comfort and dignity everybody deserves, and often doesn’t get in today’s world of hurry.
Hospice services vary from place to place, but the basic services mentioned here, are available everywhere I’ve checked.
Our journey ended on May the fifth, just as the first little bird heralded the new day, and a bright new life for him. I will bless Hospice and staff always for being allowed to walk beside him to the end.
You can locate your nearest Hospice chapter through your local hospital or cancer center.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phyllis Staton Campbell, who was born blind, writes about the world she knows best. She calls on her experience as teacher of the blind, peer counselor and youth transition coordinator. She says that she lives the lives of her characters: lives of sorrow and joy; triumph and failure; hope and despair. That she and her characters sometimes see the world in a different way, adds depth to the story. She sees color in the warmth of the sun on her face, the smell of rain, the call of a cardinal, and God, in a rainbow of love and grace.
Although she was born in Amherst County, Virginia, she has lived most of her life in Staunton, Virginia, where she serves as organist at historic Faith Lutheran church, not far from the home she shared with her husband, Chuck, who waits beyond that door called death.
Books by Phyllis Campbell, writing as Phyllis Staton Campbell
Where Sheep May Safely Graze
2020, Goin’ Home, Sequel to Where Sheep May Safely Graze
A Place To Belong Re-release
Other Books by Phyllis Campbell
COME HOME MY HEART, 1985.
REPRINTED IN 2001
FRIENDSHIPS IN THE DARK, 1996 Reprint 1997
The Evil Men Do 2006, true crime, written under contract for the family of the victim.
Who Will hear Them Cry, April, 2012
Out of the Night February, 2014
5.0 out of 5 Where Sheep May Safely Graze This book was wonderful. It held my attention from the first page …
This book was wonderful. It held my attention from the first page until the end and I did not want it to end. I hope a second book will be forth coming. Kudos to you Phyllis for the best book I have read in a long time.
If you would like to contact Phyllis email her at: Pcampbell16@verizon.net
To see more visit: